Best Responses

The Art of Accepting Compliments Gracefully

We’ve all been there – someone pays you a compliment and you freeze up, not sure what to say. Though receiving compliments feels nice, knowing how to respond gracefully can be tricky. In this post, I’ll share my best tips for accepting praise with poise and polish.

Don’t Negate or Minimize the Compliment

One of the biggest mistakes people make is brushing off a compliment by saying something like “It was nothing” or “I didn’t do that great of a job.” When you negate or minimize someone’s kind words, it can come across as fishing for more praise or being insecure. Instead of denying the compliment, accept it with a simple “Thank you.”

For example:

Compliment Giver: “Wow, that presentation was so well put together!”

Receiver: “Aw it wasn’t that good, but thank you for the feedback.”

Instead say: 

Receiver: “I’m grateful for the positive response. It’s rewarding to create something others can appreciate.”

Return the Compliment if You Can

While not always possible, looking for an opportunity to sincerely return the compliment shows you’re gracious and aware of others. For instance, if someone compliments an outfit you’re wearing, you could say “Thank you, I love your shoes too!” Or if a colleague praises your work ethic, expressing appreciation for their contributions builds rapport.

Plus, exchanging compliments just spreads more positivity. As the old saying goes, “Don’t pay back compliments, pay them forward!”

Smile and Make Eye Contact 

Your body language and facial expression say a lot when accepting a compliment. Be sure to smile warmly and maintain eye contact with the person paying you a compliment. This shows you’re confident and comfortable receiving praise, not awkwardly staring at the ground. It also expresses genuine gratitude for their kind words. A smile and engaged expression convey “Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to notice my efforts.”

Tell a Related Anecdote or Story 

Sharing a brief, relevant anecdote in response to a compliment personalizes the interaction. It builds a connection with the compliment giver while gracefully acknowledging their praise. 

If someone complimented me on the creativity in my work, I would respond with:

“Thanks! I’ve always loved coming up with new ideas ever since elementary school science fair projects.”

Or if told your collaboration skills are stellar, respond with “Thank you, working together is so important to me after captaining my soccer team in high school.” Spinning a short related tale shows humility while further engaging the person.

Ask a Question to Redirect the Conversation 

While it’s nice to accept compliments, you don’t want to stand there endlessly gushing over each one. A subtle question can shift dialogue in a positive direction. This prevents awkwardness from long bouts of flattery.

For instance, after thanking someone for their praise of a recent presentation, inquire “What part did you find most helpful?” Or if complimented on a creative outfit, follow up with “Where are you heading after work today?” Posing an open-ended question redirects focus while maintaining a positive interaction.

Maintain Confidence and Poise  

Receiving compliments is easier said than done for many. But over time, with practice accepting praise gracefully, you’ll build confidence and poise. Don’t get flustered if you happen to stumble on your words – just take a breath and smile. Staying relaxed, making eye contact, and remembering a few key responses like “Thank you” will help you shine when acknowledged by others. 

Remember – compliments are a gift, so accept them with gratitude, keep responses brief yet engaging, and project an air of assuredness and appreciation. With experience, you’ll feel comfortable easily acknowledging another’s kind words.

Related: How to Respond to wsg

Don’t Get Compliment Happy

While receiving praise feels good, don’t fish for compliments or brag excessively about achievements just to hear more. Stay humble and keep responses appropriately brief rather than dwelling on admiration. Too much compliment fishing can come across as insecure or attention-seeking. Instead, let your actions and character shine through naturally.

For example:

Compliment Fishing: “Can you believe I closed that big sale last quarter? I’m such an amazing negotiator.” 

Humble Response: “Thank you, I’m glad I could help the company meet our goals.”

Stay grounded and let compliments occur organically through your hard work and positive influence on others.

Pay it Forward

As mentioned earlier, the kindest way to acknowledge compliments is to pass on positivity to someone else. Look for little ways every day to recognize efforts both big and small by offering heartfelt praise to colleagues, friends and family. 

Spreading compliments is immensely uplifting and helps build strong connections. Try expressing gratitude for everything from nailing a presentation to having your back on a complex project to bringing delicious banana bread to the office potluck. Paying it forward spreads more joy than politely accepting compliments alone ever could.

A Funny Compliment Story

I’ll never forget one slightly awkward yet hilarious compliment exchange I had with a client years ago. We were wrapping up a lengthy project presentation when she looked me dead in the eye and said very seriously, “You have the most captivating blue eyes I’ve ever seen, like swimming pools.” 

While thoroughly caught off guard, I smiled big and managed to reply “Well thank you, I’ll be sure to send my optometrist a fruit basket!” We both burst out laughing, effectively lightening the mood. Now whenever I see her, we reminisce about “the swimming pool eyes” and crack up all over again. A touch of humor can go a long way in accepting odd or unexpected compliments with good grace.

Practice Responding Naturally

The more you acknowledge compliments smoothly and confidently, the more second nature it will become. Look for low-pressure opportunities like close friends and family to practice your reactions. Vary your responses beyond just “Thank you” by incorporating returning compliments, engaging questions or light anecdotes as discussed earlier.

Role playing with a friend in a judgment-free zone also helps build repertoire. Have them throw out common compliments while you test drive different replies to get comfortable responding naturally without thinking too hard. With practice, you’ll become an expert at accepting praise elegantly in all contexts from casual meetups to networking events to performance reviews. Handling compliments with grace boosts your overall poise and likability.

Don’t Stress About Context

As you gain experience responding to compliments smoothly, try not to overthink context. With some practice under your belt, your polished replies will shine through regardless of setting, from chatty office small talk to impactful client meetings. 

Relaxed and genuinely appreciative acknowledgement works for everything from remarks on a cute outfit to kudos for landing a major account. Focus on radiating gratitude rather than stressing scenario specific reactions. Your confident yet down-to-earth demeanor in accepting praise shows professionalism across environments.

Compliment Authentically Where You Can Too

The healthiest approach is realizing we’re all works in progress when it comes to accepting compliments. Spend more time looking for sincere ways to build others up as well. A kind word, praise for a job well done or gratitude for an act of service goes a long way in bringing positivity to the world, one heartfelt compliment at a time.

In the end, it’s not about being perfect in receiving praise flawlessly. It’s about cultivating consideration, boosting morale and strengthening human connections through authentic words of acknowledgement. Keep improving yourself while lifting others – that’s true poise.

In Closing…

With practice, acknowledging compliments becomes second nature. Focus on radiating gratitude sincerely yet briefly without minimizing or denying kind words. Look for opportunities to return praise thoughtfully too. Above all, stay confident in your character and let that shine through. Keep spreading positivity with compliments of your own wherever you can. Handling admiration gracefully is an art – and every interaction gifts a chance to strengthen your skills. Soon accepting compliments will feel as easy and instinctive as giving them.

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